Thursday, November 21, 2013

Laughing through the ‘Thinky Pain’

Netflix has received plenty of accolades for its original programming, but they deserve a few more kudos for its exclusive stand-up special “Marc Maron: Thinky Pain.” Maron has been doing stand-up for many years. He’s probably best known for his podcast,“WTF with Marc Maron.” He also has an IFC series. 

Despite this success, I was unaware of him. This 90-minute stand-up performance not only made me a fan, but will likely win him many more. If you enjoy smart comedy, you need to know Marc Maron.

Maron is a skilled -- and funny -- storyteller. Unlike comedians performing sets that feel rehearsed to the point that all spontaneity has been scrubbed out, Maron’s set on “Thinky Pain” has a loose, spontaneous feel to it. It can probably be chalked up to his disdain for people who prepare, which he explains to hilarious effect.

Though it’s Maron doing the talking during the show, it feels as if there’s a conversation between him and the audience. He eschewed shooting this special in a large theater for a much smaller and intimate venue, which only enhances this effect as he covers a wide range of topics.

But Maron is at his best when he tells stories that let us sit inside his mind and watch his thought process at work. Whether it’s the immediate anger he feels over the shorts some stranger has chosen to wear or his encounters with “alpha males” who hunt, ride motorcycles and own boats, his stories always end with a good -- and smart -- laugh.

Maron has a gift for seeing the absurdity and humor in everyday life as well as the skill to infuse his stories with a greater point. His story about how a humiliating little league incident forever changed the course of his life is a great example. His description of what he would tell his younger self is not only funny, but it’s a relatable story. It also offers an explanation of the show’s title. But even without the explanation, we should all take this opportunity to enjoy the “Thinky Pain.”